A Global Apollo Programme To Combat Climate Change

Report by Martin Rees, David King, John Browne, Richard Layard, Gus O'Donnell, Nicholas Stern, Adair Turner
Published on 10 October 2015

The Global Apollo Programme is a call for a major global science and economics research programme to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal by the year 2025.

It featured in the Leader's Declaration of the 41st G7 summit. It was followed in 2015 by two initiatives from Bill Gates: Mission Innovation (20 countries committed to double their respective clean energy R&D  budgets over the five years to 2020) and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (of 28 high net worth individuals, who collectively pledged to invest $1bn in clean energy).

The report was written by Professor Sir David King, former Government Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government; Professor Lord Stern (author of The Stern Review); Lord O'Donnell (former Cabinet Secretary); Lord Turner (former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry) and Lord Browne (former Chief Executive of BP); Professor Lord Rees (former President of the Royal Society) and labour economist Lord Layard.

It was endorsed by:

  • Sir David Attenborough
  • Professor Brian Cox, University of Manchester
  • Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever
  • Ed Davey, Former UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
  • Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair of the Grantham Institute
  • Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group
  • Ben Goldsmith, Founder, Menhaden Capital
  • Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP
  • Professor Martin Siegert, Co-director of the Grantham Institute
  • Professor Joanna Haigh, Co-director, Grantham Institute; vice-president of Royal Meteorological Society
  • Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Professor John Shepherd, University of Southampton
  • Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

Executive Summary

Climate change threatens us with increased risk of drought, flood and tempest, leading to mass migration and conflict. These dangers can be limited if the rise in temperature is less than 2˚C above the pre-industrial level.

And in 2010 world leaders agreed at Cancun to act to achieve that limit. But the commitments made since then have little chance of achieving that target. Even if every promise was carried out, carbon-dioxide emissions will continue to rise (see Figure). By 2035 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed the critical level for a 2˚C rise in temperature and on current policies the temperature will eventually reach 4˚C above the pre-industrial level. This is the central forecast, implying a 50% chance of still higher temperatures. We must take action to prevent this, by radically cutting the world’s output of carbon dioxide (see Figure). We must reduce the use of energy and we must make the energy we use clean i.e. free of carbon-dioxide emissions. This Report is about how to make energy clean.

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